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Charlottetown woman hopes to 'never, ever pick up another cigarette' after Lung Association challenge

Judy Gallant hopes this is the last time she breaks the habit after participating in a month-long challenge with the P.E.I. Lung Association to quit smoking.
Judy Gallant hopes this is the last time she breaks the habit after participating in a month-long challenge with the P.E.I. Lung Association to quit smoking. - Michael Robar
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —



In early May, Judy Gallant saw a Facebook ad that she hopes will change her life.

It was for the Smoke-Free Now Challenge, put on by the P.E.I. Lung Association.

The lifelong, on-again-off-again smoker knew it was now or never and decided to register.

On July 9, Gallant will have been smoke-free for two months, she said.

“I hope to God I never, ever pick up another cigarette because if I do, I don’t think I’ll be able to quit again because it was the hardest thing I ever went through.”

Gallant was one of 11 successful Islanders out of 45 who tried to drop the habit for the challenge, which lasted one month and ended June 5.

As part of the challenge, participants received motivational emails, a challenge calendar and access to an online support group, which was indispensable in helping Gallant stay the course.

However, she had a greater motivation, she said.

“My sister-in-law had stroke, and she’s the exact same age as me. And it wasn’t just the smoking, but that was a big one. They said it was from smoking and a couple other things.”

With health issues of her own, Gallant took it as a sign.

“I hope to God I never, ever pick up another cigarette because if I do, I don’t think I’ll be able to quit again because it was the hardest thing I ever went through.”

- Judy Gallant

The coronavirus (COVID-19 strain), potentially devastating to people’s respiratory system, shone a light on the importance of lung health, said Julie Hartley, co-ordinator of the P.E.I. Lung Association, in a media release.

“We figured this virus might provide additional motivation for people to quit, so we wanted to offer this program as a means of support for people who are looking to improve their lung health during these uncertain times.”

However, Gallant, a self-proclaimed homebody, didn’t find the pandemic to be a help or a hindrance.

Like many smokers, this isn’t Gallant’s first attempt to quit.

While she tried laser therapy in the past, she mostly tried cold turkey as she didn’t find nicotine patches helpful.

The longest she had been able to quit before was for eight years. She would make a fuss anytime someone smoked around her, she said.

“’Get that away from me, ew,’ that’s the way I was … and I thought I would never start again. Never.”

She picked it up again while in the hospital – at that time, hospitals still had smoking rooms – for what was then-undiagnosed chronic pain.

Now, with the support of friends, the Facebook group and the P.E.I. Lung Association to keep her accountable, she wants this to be the last time, but sge knows as well as anyone how hard the road ahead will be.

“I wish I could say, I really wish I could say, ‘I’ll never smoke again,’ but never say never because those eight years I was quit, I was the worst non-smoker you ever met.”

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